Not kidding! Edgeryders’ very own consulting and foresight agency Edgeryders LbG just got contracted by the United Nations Development Programme to work in Nepal. Edgeryders community member @Natalia_Skoczylas will join me to work “on the ground” in Kathmandu, Nepal, starting in two weeks. And everyone else in the Edgeryders community can join us remotely via this platform (see below). I promise us all a fascinating three months adventure
Why we’re heading to Nepal. Because Edgeryders, and I mean the whole “ecosystem”, has the rare skill of gathering input from the edges of society and of connecting the edges to institutions in constructive dialogue.
It’s similar to what Edgeryders did in the very beginning. Back in 2012, Council of Europe was looking for new voices from “youth in transition”, and the Edgeryders project brought them in. Now, it is UNDP Nepal looking for new voices to help build a more democratic, inclusive and resilient society.
UNDP calls these new voices “alternative leaders”, we call them “edgeryders”: grassroots activists, social innovators, hackers and makers, all kinds of engaged citizens on the edges of society. Both UNDP and of course we as Edgeryders believe that bringing in these alternative voices, from outside mainstream society and formal political processes, into the national conversation will help spark new exchanges and ideas. We are not at all called to care about a specific social or political issue. Instead, this project is meant to open the way for creative approaches to difficult problems, to strengthen and energize civil society in Nepal in multiple ways. A great fit, since wherever we found alternative leaders / edgeryders so far, they were pro-active engaged citizens who found the issues they care about and to solve all by themselves. We’re there to listen, and to connect them. That’s all – a modest contribution, but still a daunting task, and we’re glad to have it
How you can be part of the adventure. Makers, hackers and other empowered citizens are a global phenomenon. Which means we expect to find edgeryders in Nepal, to find that our method works, and to have a great – productive and meaningful – time together across national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. That’s just what Edgeryders do when they meet. And we invite you to experience another round of Edgeryders magic when meeting your Nepali brothas and sistas. There is more than one way:
- Get updates about Nepal's Edgeryders. Just go to the Future Makers Nepal project (the name is preliminary yet), then click "Follow". You'll get an e-mail notification when people post to this space. This includes blog posts, photos and videos by Natalia and me, and of course the actual contributions by Nepal's alternative leaders.
- Look behind your horizon. For social innovators and changemakers, Nepal and its continuing transition from monarchy to "absolute democracy" is great stuff. Like many "small" nations, Nepal has an agile, fast-moving modern history to learn from. I won't digress into a history lesson just yet, because I could only quote events from the books and would surely get their significance wrong. But you can read things up by yourself for now (just start here), and I promise to come back with horizon-expanding posts when I start to understand Nepal's history more first-hand.
- Do you know a latent edgeryder in Nepal? If you know of Edgeryders-ish people, projects and organizations in Nepal and are happy to share the "lead", we invite you to leave a comment below. Thank you!
- Share your experience and knowledge. Like all public projects on edgeryders.eu, it's an open discussion. You are invited to comment on posts, and write your own posts. Just as you like updates from Nepal, they will like your input as "from the international community".
- Join the video calls. We plan to have weekly open video calls where we can all hang out together as a truly cosmopolitan community of grassroots changemakers. Interested? We're pretty sure you are.
- Collaborations, collaborations. Many Egeryders collaborations just pop up when somebody realizes an opportunity. You might be that person this time and end up with a new project and new friends. You never know!
- Come visit! We plan to get a space in Kathmandu with a spare room from May to July 2015. The spare room will be free to claim for any Edgeryder. If you're around, please say hi and stay for some days!
- Keep us organized! If you want to be involved at a deeper level or just noticed something that can be organized better, tell us in the Future Makers Nepal Coordination project. It's a public space as well and separate only to shield participants from too many e-mails about boring organizational stuff. We invite you also to share your thoughts on our method: What's great, what is not, and how can we improve?
- Next time, you could even be part of the team. This time, Natalia is our official "trainee" for immersive training in the Edgeryders method. Next time, she might introduce somebody else, which means you could be part of the ground team then. Don't count on it, but as Natalia can tell, interesting projects can happen to you just by expressing interest in a collaboration early on :)
But does it really work? It feels like magic! The “Edgeryders method” is not the solution, it’s a method to find solutions by looking for and connecting those overlooked people who have the solutions already. And yes, the “Edgeryders method” of creating such inclusive dialogue works. If it feels like magic, that’s when it works!
Really so: I had this epiphany about Edgeryders at its first big conference, where 200 of us gathered. I was there as a rural hacker (“more great ideas than great friends”), and when in the midst of the first big Edgeryders meet & greet, I realized I had just met more fascinating people and made more friends in the last three hours than in the last three years combined. Magic! Pure magic! (May I also recommend @gazbee_sorour’s beautiful tale from last year – it’s the best story about realizing that “Edgeryders works” that I know of.)
Photo: Kathmandu Roofscape I, by McKay Savage, via flickr. CC-BY 2.0.